Ecumenical Water Network

The EWN is a network of churches and Christian organizations promoting people's access to water around the world

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Week 4

The fourth Biblical reflection of the Seven Weeks for Water 2014 is by the “Green Bishop” Geoff Davies, executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute. Citing several examples from the Bible, he brings a strong critique of the anthropocentric understanding of our theology and encourages us to become “earthkeepers”. He also strongly advocates that water is a gift of God and no one should be denied of this life giving resource.
Week 4

One woman helps another as they fetch water at the edge of Lake Malawi in Karonga, a town in northern Malawi. © ACT/Paul Jeffrey

The fourth Biblical reflection of the Seven Weeks for Water 2014 is by the “Green Bishop” Geoff Davies, executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute. Citing several examples from the Bible, he brings a strong critique of the anthropocentric  understanding of our theology  and  encourages us to become “earthkeepers”. He also strongly advocates that water  is a gift of God and no one should be denied of this life giving resource.

Water – A Gift of God and a Human Right: A Critique of Anthropocentrism

Water is essential to life. It is a gift of God. God wants all creation should receive the blessing of life-giving water. It is therefore a deeply religious and ethical issue and transgresses all standards of justice when people – and all of the created order – are denied water. Injustice is inflicted, not only against God’s creation, but against the creator. Therefore, a sound ethical and theological understanding regarding water is essential.  Faith communities should be integrally involved in caring for the natural environment, since environmental justice issues are core moral and ethical concerns and not just environmental, economic and social questions.   We need to establish a sound theological base for our actions. We are dealing with questions of beliefs and values, which influence and direct our behaviour.

To continue reading, please download the  reflection (pdf, 456 KB)

Thoughts for Reflection

  1. There is tension between the environment and the need for human development, but we have to realize that our well-being is integrally linked with the well-being of the environment
  2. Read the Bible with “green spectacles”! You will find it is full of the wonders of creation. Consider the following passages among many: Genesis 1:2, 9–10, Genesis 2:6, Ezekiel 47:1–12, John 4:10, 13, 14, Revelation 21:1–4, 22:1–2
  3. Can we see this not only in terms of the ecumenical movement, but interfaith?    After all, we all, whatever    faith, breathe the same air and drink of  the same water.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What can we do to be good “earthkeepers”?
  2. How can we treat water as a valuable commodity without a price on it?
  3. Should there be legal rights for ‘a healthy environment’ (e.g., South African Constitution) and should there be legal rights for the natural environment?

Ideas for  Action

  1. As a community, explore what can we do about waste disposal and water pollution?
  2. As a community, explore what can we do to harvest water and stop soil erosion?
  3. Let us work together with the other faiths in our communities to address the water crisis, because we are all threatened by it.

 

Please note: Opinions expressed in Biblical reflections or background resources do not necessarily reflect EWN and WCC policy.